Looping Monte Limidario - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

October 18, 2018

Looping Monte Limidario

This was one of those rare days that began well and just kept getting better all day long.  We had an inkling that something special was in store when we looked out from our hotel room this morning:

The view from our hotel room this morning. One could get used to this.
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To be honest, I was a bit put out by our hotel stay here.  It’s a nice place with a good restaurant, but it felt like a dumb spot for a layover.  The only decent day ride is the loop from Cannobio that I originally planned, but that requires a repeat ride on the busy highway we came in last night.  It looked much more attractive in planning than it does now that we’re here.  We considered just taking a hike on the trails that climb up the cliff here, but Rachael has Second Day Syndrome - her calves are quite sore from the hike above Mercote two days ago, and a walk today doesn’t sound appealing either.

We decide to take the originally planned loop and head north to Locarno again.  It’s not nearly as bad this morning - better light, fewer cars, and there are plenty of other bikes on the road to assure us we’re not nuts.  Before long, we’re in Locarno again, taking advantage of a Swiss feature we’d like to see more of in Italy as well - clean, well maintained public restrooms.

This is Cannero.
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This is Cannobio. Same lake, same country; but that’s about it, really. You can’t really get them confused.
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And this is Locarno, which you presumably already know if you’ve been paying attention. We were just here yesterday.
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So the loop I had planned is a circuit of Monte Limidario.  It’s a triangular affair - a flat leg along the lakeside that we’ve just completed; a fairly gradual 2,500’ climb up a gorge to a summit near Moresco; and then a steeper drop to the lake again, ending at Cannobio.  Soon after leaving Locarno, we come to a steep switchback that lifts us off the valley floor and up to the level of a rail line coming in from the north.  This is by far the hardest part of the climb.

After that, the rest of the ride is a total delight.  The views up and down keep getting better as we climb, and it’s a splendid day to ride - very little traffic, mostly sunny, mild.  The climb to the summit is probably the most enjoyable pass climb we’ve had on this tour so far.  Near the top, we sit on a ledge beside the road, our backs resting against a wall of gneiss, and soak in the sun and views.

Looking back at Intragna, and recovering a bit. Climbing up the opposite side of this ridge was the hardest part of the day.
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A bit above Intragna, we’re looking down into the deep, narrow Melezza Gorge at a Roman bridge. Or, so says the information panel I’m standing next to. It calls it Ponte Romano (Roman Bridge), but also says it was built in 1588. Something doesn’t add up there. It also says that’s a small chapel atop it, and it’s part of the old road to Rasa, a village higher up we’ll come to later. I took the photo with my superzoom full out, so you can imagine how deep this canyon is.
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Again! That’s three shots like this in four days. I can’t recall the last time I saw a radiant sky like this. It must come with the territory here.
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There’s not much land to play with here on the lip of this gorge. The road and rail line both thread through it, and we keep crossing paths.
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A pretty gneiss Bike Friday shot, if I do say so myself!
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Bill ShaneyfeltGneissly played!
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyDefinitely one of the gneissest shots I've seen!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyGneissest! Such a funny looking word - it looks like it would be a toungue twister, but it rolls right off.
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1 month ago
Another old milestone shot. We’re right at the international border here, with untended Swiss and Italian customs houses on either side.
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Here’s that rail line again, working it’s way upgorge with us. Pretty impressive engineering feat.
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Monte Limidario
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The Madonna del Sangue (the bleeding Madonna) sanctuary, in the village of Re. It’s startling to round a bend and find this enormous complex up here. It dates back to the 1600’s and is a pilgrimage site. In 1494, a peasant hurled a stone at an image of the Madonna, and she began bleeding.
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The windows in the sanctuary are modern, and the best part. The sunlight radiating through them cast light on the columns and walls around them.
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In the Madonna del Sangue sanctuary
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We reach the top about three, with still about twenty miles to go - the first of them pretty much all downhill as we drop to Cannobio.  We want to make good time so that we’re back to n the highway before it’s too late, but the descent is slow going.  It’s just too awesome, and even better than the ascent.  Quieter road, fabulous scenery, one reason after another to stop.  

Part way down, stopped to admire a long foot suspension bridge across the gorge far below us, I tell Rachael that I think I have a ladybug crawling on my nose.  I’m right!  I hand her the camera, but it flies off before Rachael can catch a shot.  Then, Rachael notices that there are many of them - we’re in a swarm of ladybugs!  They’re crawling all over us, on our limbs, our clothing, our helmets.  I try to take a photo of one on Rachael’s helmet, When another alights on my viewfinder.  A bit of a miracle to cap a miraculous day.

We’re over the top now, and looking back at Marasco before beginning an awesome 13 mile descent. Mount Limidario is just visible on the right side of the frame.
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The Catholic Church in Finero, nicely places for a switchback shot.
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Jacquie GaudetI want to see inside, to see how that stone roof is supported!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI see that I forgot to caption this. Structures like this are/were characteristic of the region. I remember being drawn o them when we biked through here 25 years ago.
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1 month ago
There’s a path around this tunnel, which Rachael suggested we take. I said we should save time and race through it, since it’s well lit, there’s no traffic, and it looked short at first. Turns out it’s really a third of a mile long though, and when the occasional car goes by, it’s deafening.
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This photo didn’t quite work for some reason, which is too bad - the mountainside colors were really beautiful here.
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This really was a wonderful descent. Long, gradual, beautiful, ultra quiet. We didn’t see a car for several miles, until RChael opened her mouth to comment on it and jinxed us. About. Dozen cars edged past us almost immediately after.
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Another photo that doesn’t quite work. This gorge is so narrow, and so deep. The stream is visible straight down a thousand feet below, beyond earshot. Awesome.
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Crossing a bridge over the canyon, we biked straight at the face of this huge vertical wall. I have a photo from the perspective of the bridge also, but it’s better to view it at the end of the video.
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And this is Connobio again, from the back side.
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Ride stats today: 55 miles, 3,800’

Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 1,687 miles (2,715 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
david alstonA few Swiss style clean, well maintained public restrooms would be welcome in la belle France as well. We are enjoying your trip.

David and Maun
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo david alstonAgreed, although I’m happy enough that we don’t see many squatters any more.
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1 month ago